Bernard Buffet

Bernard Buffet


Bernard Buffet achieved worldwide renown and is considered one of France’s most important painters of the twentieth century.

Bernard Buffet was born on July 10, 1928 in France. In 1944, he entered the Ecole des Beaux Arts, but he soon left the school to work on his own, and quickly affirmed his own exceptional personality.

He had his first exposition at the Salon des Moins de Trente Ans, (The Salon for Those Under Thirty) in 1946. In 1947, Buffet met Dr. Maurice Girardin, who became his first important collector. At his death, Dr. Girardin donated his collection to the Petit Palais Museum in Paris.  Buffet also exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants and the Salon d’Automne.

In 1948, Buffet won the Prix de la Critique, and he had given at least one important exposition each year, until shortly before his death.

In 1955, he received the first prize in a referendum conducted by the Review “Connaissance des Arts”, and was designated first out of ten best painters of the post World War II era.

In the 1950s, Bernard Buffet was considered the principal figurative artist in Paris. During this period, he was influenced by the miserabilisme movement: his compositions, all grays and dull whites, had a somber mood. Buffet’s subjects have tremendous range, especially in later works, and include still-lifes, interior scenes, and views of such cities as New York, Paris, and London.

During this time Buffet had several important one-man shows in Paris at the Drousant-David Galeries and the David et Garnier Galeries, where the following paintings received particular acclaim: La Passion (1952), Horreur de la Guerre (1954), Le Cirque (1956), Paysages de Paris (1957), and Jeanne d’Arc (1958).   In 1958 the Galerie Charpentier staged a retrospective show called Cent Tableaux of the paintings which had brought Buffet such outstanding success in the brief period since the end of World War II.

He designed the sets for two ballets – one of them Rende-vous Manqué by Françoise Sagan in 1958. He illustrated several books, including Jean Cocteau’s La Voix Humaine and La Passion.

Bernard Buffet was honored with the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur in 1971. In 1973, the Musée Bernard Buffet was opened in Surugdaira, Japan.  In 1974, Buffet was elected to the Académie des Beaux Arts. In 1978, a Three Franc Stamp was issued by the French Government and is entitled “Le Pont des Arts” It was realized from a model designed especially by Buffet.

Buffet’s paintings for the Chapel of Chateau d’Arc representing scenes from the life of Christ are permanently exhibited in the Modern Art Galleries of the Vatican Museum. Japan and Germany dedicated monoraphical museums to his work.

Buffet is represented in the Musée d’Art Moderne and the Petit Palais in Paris.  He is also represented in the Museums of Grenoble and Lille, and in many foreign museums and private collections.

Bernard Buffet committed suicide on October 4, 1999.


James MuldoonBernard Buffet